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Complete List of Mini Panniers and Small Panniers for Bikepacking

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Panniers for bikepacking? Forget the enormous bags designed for fully loaded road touring. Nowadays, there’s a wide selection of hookless mini panniers and sturdy small panniers that are well-suited for off-road touring and bikepacking. These panniers are especially useful for mid-winter outings, remote trips that require a week or more of food, or for smaller riders who lack adequate clearance for a seat pack. Here’s our complete list of panniers for bikepacking, mini panniers, and svelte micro options…

In bikepacking utopia, we all tear around beautiful singletrack on minimal, softbag setups carefully packed with the latest in ultralight gear.

In the real world, howoever, many of us need aren’t always riding trails and our gear is bulky; sometimes we just need a little extra capacity. Perhaps it’s a tour on dirt roads and we’re expecting mixed weather. Or it’s an expedition-style journey with two or three weeks between resupply points. Winter riding? Maybe a -20° sleeping bag takes up all the space. Tykepacking? We know what it’s like to have kids and need to carry extra gear. And then there are shorter riders, whose setups may impose limited tire clearance for a seatpack, as well as the constraints of a small capacity framebag.

  • Porcelain Rocket Modular Mini Panniers, Waterproof, welded
  • bedrock bags hermosa UL pannier

Why Use Panniers for Bikepacking

Despite their extra bulk and weight, hybrid setups can make a lot of sense when our requirements are a little out of the ordinary. A number of manufacturers have noticed this need, and there’s a growing range of small, minimal panniers that cater to this overflow without reverting back to a traditional touring setup.

Broadly speaking, these bags are smaller in capacity than conventional panniers, they’re lighter, and they’re often rattle-free, which makes them better suited to riding off road. Their profiles are slimmer too, which means pushing a bike is less awkward and singletrack riding is more enjoyable. In some cases, they’re so minimal that they can be cinched back or rolled right down when not in use, barely taking up any space at all.

All this said, panniers aimed at bikepacking often sacrifice everyday practicality in the pursuit of performance. In many cases, this means that they’re not as easy to pull on and off as a traditional pannier; generally, they’re designed to be left on the bike during a tour, rather than removed every day. Softbag models may also need a liner for complete waterproofing. And their capacity is capped, because at heart, mini panniers still encourage us to pack light, unencumbered by excess gear. For this reason, all the panniers in this selection are 30L (combined) in capacity, or less.

In terms of packing, we’d suggest placing the heaviest stuff lower down, so the panniers impact your bike’s handling less. If you’re in that twilight zone of panniers too big, bare bike too small, try our cargo cage and fork mount bag Index.

Front Panniers on the Back

Running front panniers on a rear rack is a time-honoured way of reducing the amount of gear you carry. By their nature front panniers are smaller and lighter than rear panniers, so you’re less likely to overpack and have the rear of the bike ‘wag’ when riding. There’s a range of models on the market, and whilst they’re not designed specifically for bikepacking, almost any front pannier will do the trick, depending on your demands. By comparison, ‘Micro Panniers’ tend to have a slimmer profile for technical riding and to make the bike easier to push during hike-a-bikes. Higher/shorter panniers also help avoid snagging brush and rocks in tight singletrack.

Straps vs Hooks

There are all kinds of ways to attach panniers to racks. Commuters and traditional tourers favour designs that unclip easily for daily removal. These, however, can be noisy and sometimes prone to failure when used off road. Other designs have hooks and bungee cords to prevent bags from jettisoning off. Panniers designed specifically for bikepacking often use velcro straps; they’re not as quick to remove, but they’re lighter, quieter, and less likely to fail. It’s also possible to mix and match, as some manufacturers do.

Rack compatibility

You’ll need to source a rack to run with your panniers. A typical checklist includes making sure there’s enough clearance for the width of your tires and height of your wheels, that the diameter of the tubing and the rack’s overall shape works with your pannier attachment system, and that the rack is designed for the weight you carry and is hardy enough for off-road use. Lastly, you don’t need anything that’s too overbuilt, or you’ll find that your hardware weighs more than its contents. Stout but minimal racks include Tubus’ Vega series and the forthcoming Tumbleweed Bikes T-Rack.

  • Bedrock Hermosa UL Pannier review
  • Ortlieb Gravel Packs, Panniers

In this Gear Index, we’ve included key information to help you pick the right panniers, including volume, the attachment system, fabric, weight, and price. Those that we have first hand experience using are marked, as usual, with a hexagonal “T” icon, and are listed first.

  • £80
    Altura Vortex 30 Panniers

    Altura Vortex 30 Panniers

    • Type: Mini Panniers
    • Attachment: Strap and Buckle
    • Volume (each): 15L
    • Fabric: 210D Nylon TPU

    These 30 liter panniers are built with light and fast adventure in mind. Made with proprietary Altura Shield Technology, welded seam construction, and a roll-top closure, these panniers keep your critical items dry. The mounting system on panniers always seems to be the weak point, but the strap system used on these bags is bombproof. Ordinarily, panniers bump and bobble around, but not these. The strap system snugs up tightly and keeps the pannier from bouncing. Coming in at only .5 kg a pair, they’re quite light. They seem like they’d handle light abuse, but I’d hesitate in dragging them through thick brambles, thistles, or thorns like I would with Cordura or X-Pac.

    • Altura Vortex 30 Panniers
    • Altura Vortex 30 Panniers
    • Altura Vortex 30 Panniers
    • Altura Vortex 30 Panniers
    • Altura Vortex 30 Panniers

    The Ultralite Vortex 30 panniers are simple and elegant. The mounting system is bomber, they keep their contents dry, and weigh barely anything. These would be a fantastic pannier for winter conditions, especially ultra races like the Arrowhead or Iditarod.

    Tested by Colt Fetters

    • Weight: 500 grams (17.6 oz)
    • Price: £80 (pair)
    • Place of Manufacture: China
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  • $90
    Arkel Dry-Lite Panniers

    Arkel Dry-Lite Panniers

    • Type: Mini Panniers
    • ATTACHMENT: Velcro Straps
    • VOLUME (EACH): 14L
    • FABRIC: 400D Nylon TPU

    Arkel is best known for their traditional touring panniers and accessories. However, in the last few years they have been expanding their already impressive product line to include lightweight and bikepacking-friendly saddle bags, handlebar bags, and panniers. The Arkel Dry-Lites are fully waterproof roll-top panniers that use a unique velcro attachment system that should make them compatible with most rear racks out there. The bags are made of a 400-denier ripstop nylon, provide up to 28 litres of storage between two bags, and are easily one of the lightest pannier sets out there.

    • Arkel Dry-Lite Panniers
    • Arkel Dry-Lite Panniers
    • Arkel Dry-Lite Panniers
    • Arkel Dry-Lite Panniers
    • Arkel Dry-Lite Panniers

    Although the velcro attachment system looked a bit messy at first, with a little practice it became one of the bag’s most valuable features. The Dry-Lites will fit nearly every rack out there. The velcro system keeps the weight down, and there is little chance of failure – which cannot be said for standard rack attachment systems seen on other panniers. There is a standard shock cord and hook point on each bag that hooks onto the lower section of the rack to keep the Dry-Lites in place, and ultralight horizontal stays to hold the panniers away from the rear wheels. In practice, the lightweight materials mean stuffing gear within the bags is easy and quick, and would be useful for storing bulky items like sleeping bags, tents, or winter layers during extended bikepacking trips. However, the unique velcro straps do mean removing and reattaching the panniers can be slow, so taking extra care to plan what gear lives inside the Dry-Lites is a must. Dimensions per bag: 14.5” X 11” X 5.5” / 37cm X 28cm X 14cm.

    Tested by Miles

    • Weight: 540 grams (19 oz)
    • Price: $90
    • Place of Manufacture: Taiwan
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • $230
    Arkel XM-28 Panniers

    Arkel XM-28 Panniers

    • Type: Front or small rear panniers
    • Attachment: Proprietary locking clasp and bungee
    • Volume (each): 14L
    • Fabric: Cordura

    The XM-28s have been around for some time; before the advent of modern bikepacking, in fact. Still, they were always designed with mountain bike touring in mind. For this reason, they sport a slim, tall profile, heavy duty materials, and Arkel’s well renowned, ultra-secure mounting system. There’s even a tough HDPE base plate to protect them.

    In terms of ease of packing, the heavy-duty, side-slicing, two-way YKK zip opens up all the way around the pannier, making them very easy to organise or access from various points. There’s an outside mesh pocket and a top zippered pocket too; the XM-28s are well suited to bikepackers with a penchant for uber organisation. Although not fully waterproof, the XM-28s come with a high viz rain cover that also serves to keep mud and muck away.

    Worth noting, however, is that these panners are very heavy for their size, weighing in at 1.92kg for the pair. Combined with the weight of a rack, this means that running a set of XM-28s will add significantly to the base weight of your bike. Size-wise, they’re 27cm wide at the top, tapering down to 17cm at the bottom, and about 46cm in height and 14cm in depth. Their slim shape makes them a good option for those who need to carry a fair bit of gear, but have limited heel clearance.

    Tested by Cass

    • Weight: 950 grams (33.5 oz)
    • Price: $230
    • Place of Manufacture: Canada
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • $300
    Bedrock Bags Hermosa UL Panniers

    Bedrock Bags Hermosa UL Panniers

    • Type: Small Panniers
    • Attachment: Velcro straps, webbing, and buckles
    • Volume (each): 13
    • Fabric: X-Pac and ballistic nylon with internal framesheet

    Bedrock’s Hermosa UL Panniers scooped up one our 2018 ‘Top Frill’s bikepacking award for two reasons: they’re both lovely and extremely expensive. Yes, $300 is an awful lot of cash for a set of small panniers. But price aside (and Bedrock insist that a part of this pricing is due to the realistic US wages they pay their employees), we love everything about them. They’re very light, they fit securely, they’re quiet in use, and the sizing is just right for gear overflow (without overpacking). Typical to Bedrock, build quality is excellent – after months of hard use, they’re still in perfect condition.

    Officially, the Hermosas are designed for Salsa and Surly racks, but I mounted mine to a more minimal Tubus Vega without any issues. And, although they’re not made with front loading in mind, I’ve also fitted them to a Surly 8 Pack front rack, running the lower strap beneath a fork-mounted water bottle cage; the spacing for the velcro straps isn’t perfect, but it works. Again, whilst the Hermosas are not designed to be used with low riders, they mount up nicely to a set of Tubus Duos. Worth noting though – for those who plan to run them this way – is that that there’s no velcro strap ‘tidies’ and the lower attachment straps dangles down, so you’ll just have to tuck them in.

    • Bedrock Hermosa UL Pannier review
    • Bedrock Hermosa UL Pannier review
    • Bedrock Hermosa UL Pannier review
    • Bedrock Hermosa UL Pannier review
    • Bedrock Hermosa UL Pannier review

    Fitting them is a relatively slow affair compared to more commuter-orientated panniers, so I found it easier just to leave them on my bike, with the contents easily removed when stored in waterproof liners. Not that these liners aren’t really needed; although the Hermosas don’t claim to be 100% waterproof, they’re certainly up to keeping contents dry during most downpours. As for the fitting process, it involves threading two velcro straps through loops, then running the lower corner strap around the rack. Nothing too complicated, just not as quick as plastic clasps.

    In terms of rack compatibility, the upper straps have an outside-to-outside lateral measurement is 6.5″, an inside-to-inside lateral measurement of 3.5″, and they are 1.5″ wide. Minimum height from any lower rail of rack to upper rail of rack is 12″ and maximum height from any lower rail of rack to upper rail of rack is 15″. They’re available in an assortment of sizes and quoted dimensions are 11″ wide, 4″ deep, 12-18″ tall.

    Note too that cosmetic ‘seconds’ are sometimes available on the site for $225.

    Tested by Cass

    • Bedrock Hermosa UL Pannier review
    • Bedrock Hermosa UL Pannier review
    • Bedrock Hermosa UL Pannier review
    • Weight: 630 grams (22.2 oz)
    • Price: $300
    • Place of Manufacture: USA
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • $99.99
    North St. Micro Pannier

    North St. Micro Pannier

    • Type: Small Panniers
    • Attachment: Rack Hooks
    • Volume (Each): 14L
    • Fabric: X-Pac

    The North St. Micro Pannier is made in Portland, using as many US-sourced components as possible. They fit in perfectly with the type of panniers we like to use for bikepacking, designed around a waterproof VX21 X-Pac body and simple roll-top closure. With a capacity of 14L per pannier, they aren’t huge, which is great. They’re slender, lightweight, and the simple hook and elastic attachment system will fit on most racks out there. A single interior plastic panel provides some rigidity against the back of the pannier, and an exterior waterproof pocket offers a home for quick access items like maps, phones, or snacks.

    • North St. Bags Micro Panniers
    • north St. Bags Micro Panniers
    • North St. Bags Micro Panniers
    • North St. Bags Micro Panniers
    • north St. Bags Micro Panniers

    Tested by Miles

    • Weight: 382 grams (13.5 oz)
    • Price: $99.99
    • Place of Manufacture: USA
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • $150
    Revelate Nano Panniers

    Revelate Nano Panniers

    • Type: Mini Panniers
    • Attachment: Across the rack/straps and buckles
    • Volume (Both): 13L as a pair (not available separately)
    • Fabric: Revelate Lite Skin 150d exterior waterproof stretch woven Cordura zipper panel X-Pac perimeter and inner lining. 840d ballistics against rack.
    • :

    In some ways reminiscent of tje across-the-rack style saddlebag panniers, the Revelate Nano Panniers use the latest in lightweight materials, bringing them in at a very svelte 465g per pair. They’re particularly slim and shallow in design; ideal for some extra food that you want to easily access, for instance. As we’ve come to expect of Revelate’s gear, quality is top notch, and after several months of use, they’re holding up extremely well. Ours proved to be the perfect means to contain overflow on a family tour in Baja California. Capacity is relatively low, at 13L for the pair. But it’s enough to make a notable difference to your packing regime. Fitted to a lightweight rack, it also makes them idea for smaller riders with limited framebag and seatbag space.

    • Revelate Nano Pannier review
    • Revelate Nano Pannier review
    • Revelate Nano Pannier review
    • Revelate Nano Pannier review
    • Revelate Nano Pannier review

    In terms of materials, they use Revelate’s well tested Zipstretch™ construction – a waterproof, stretch woven fabric top panel that reduces zipper stress when closing the bag. There are neither hooks nor velcro; the bags straddle the rack (wider racks are preferable), with lower attachment points. There are also upper buckles to snug the bag close to your rack; in practice, we found the buckles popped open sometimes, but it was never a big deal. Stifferers give the bags shape and make sure they don’t risk bending into the tire. The more you pack them, the stiffer they are.

    Tested by Cass

    • Weight: 465 grams (16.4 oz)
    • Price: $150
    • Place of Manufacture: USA
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • $230
    Rockgeist Microwave Panniers

    Rockgeist Microwave Panniers

    • Type: Small Panniers
    • Attachment: Straps
    • Volume (each): 13L
    • Fabric: Welded/waterproof

    The Rockgeist Microwave Panniers (formerly made by Porcelain Rocket) are based around a unique two-piece design—a burly holster and a an ultralight seam-welded drybag that fits inside. The holster is stiffened with a HDPE back plate and attaches to virtually any rack out there using two Voilé Straps. Several of us have used the Microwave Panniers, and we’ve all been thoroughly impressed with their performance both on and off-road. Read our initial press release here and watch for more coverage. Also, note that since the acquisition, these are now made by Rockgeist in the USA.

    • Porcelain Rocket Microwave Panniers
    • Porcelain Rocket Microwave Panniers
    • Porcelain Rocket Microwave Panniers
    • Porcelain Rocket Microwave Panniers
    • Porcelain Rocket Microwave Panniers
    • Weight: 460 grams (16.2 oz)
    • Price: $230
    • Place of Manufacture: North Carolina, USA
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • $85
    Salsa Touring Panniers

    Salsa Touring Panniers

    • Type: Small Front Panniers
    • Attachment: Rack Hooks
    • Volume (each): 14L
    • Fabric: Coated Polyester

    In 2015, Salsa released both front and rear versions of their Touring Panniers, an extremely durable roll-top pannier designed to be simple but ready to tackle pretty much any kind of adventure. The front model offers 14L of storage per bag, and just like the rear model, is made of a heavy-duty rubberized material, similar to that found on burly river-rated dry bags. The entire bag is RF-Welded, which means it is completely waterproof, and the roll-top closure is the only opening on the bag. It secures snugly with two side release clips. There is also a small removable valuables pouch that fastens onto the interior of the pannier with velcro, which offers a good place for small tools or a wallet. The panniers taper in slightly toward the bottom, coming in close to 11” on the bottom and 14” near the top. The plastic mounting hardware accommodates rack rails between 6-10mm and includes optional spacers, depending on what rack you are using.

    • Salsa Touring Panniers
    • Salsa Touring Panniers
    • Salsa Touring Panniers
    • Salsa Touring Panniers
    • Salsa Touring Panniers

    Although there is a fair bit of adjustment offered with the mounting hardware, the sliding lower stability ‘hook’ requires some kind of vertical rack rail to hook behind to prevent the pannier from bouncing all over the place. In a few cases, we found a lightly loaded pannier could shift around on the rack, eventually unhooking from the vertical rack rail, though this was a non-issue when fully loaded. We’ve taken the Salsa Touring Panniers out in heavy rain, covered them in mud, and crammed all sorts of gear inside when fat biking in the winter. Water and dirt have yet to permeate the heavy duty fabric or roll-top closure, and giving the panniers a quick wipe down is as simple as it gets.

    • Weight: 695 grams (24.5 oz)
    • Price: $85
    • Place of Manufacture: Taiwan
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • $280
    Swift Industries Cascade Jr. Ranger Pannier Set

    Swift Industries Cascade Jr. Ranger Pannier Set

    • Type: Small Panniers
    • Attachment: Metal clip and Hook (Arkel Cam-Lock Hardware upgrade available)
    • Volume (each): 10
    • Fabric: X-pac

    We gave the Hinterlands a thorough test back in 2016 and came to the conclusion whilst these panniers aren’t as light as some, they’re extremely well built and far more secure than we were expecting. Swift’s Jr. Ranger Panniers have certainly stood up well to the various rigours of the road – both on and off the bike. In terms of pricing, they’re certainly not cheap – but over the months, I’ve found myself increasingly won over by their practicality, build quality, and handmade good looks.

    Although there’s a definite appeal to a fully waterproof setup, there are also advantages to be had in materials that can be easily repaired, wherever you find yourself in the world. By a similar token, the simple hook and cord system comes bereft of the need to carry spare parts, and proved to have a kung fu-like grip on the rails in all conditions. Given the backcountry terrain many of us favour, we’d like to have seen a rear pocket with a more secure closure. But apart from that, we’ve been extremely happy with how the Juniors have fared. With their external zip pocket, carrying handle, rear pocket, and easy on-and-off attachment, they’re a good option for commuting, too.

    Dimensions are 25.5 × 33 × 10cm (10 × 13 × 4in). Swift claims a 20L capacity for the set, but having loaded them up, we think it’s a good deal more (at least if you don’t roll them down a few times). And, they’ve proved largely water resistant as well. Note that the non-Hinterland edition is heavier and cheaper. Mounting hook spacing is 7″ outside to outside.

    Swift now allow customers the option of selecting Arkel hardware as an upgrade to the standard Swift hooks and bungee cord. The upcharge is $55, with an additional 425g added to a pair of panniers. Arkel hardware doesn’t rely on compression to hold the panniers in place. And from our experience it’s robust, resists any temptation to slide, and sticks like super glue over rough terrain. But, as you can see, this comes at a weight penalty, making them of less interest to bikepackers.

    Tested by Cass

    • Weight: 750 grams (26.5 oz)
    • Price: $280
    • Place of Manufacture: USA
    contract Close
  • $275
    Alpine Luddites HAB Panniers

    Alpine Luddites HAB Panniers

    • Type: Small Panniers
    • Attachment: Velcro Straps
    • Volume (each): 7-9L
    • Fabric: X-Pac

    Handmade by Vermont-based Alpine Luddites, the HAB (Hike-a-bike) Panniers are designed specifically with bikepacking in mind. The entire bag is made from Dimension Polyant VX51 Cordura faced fabric which is both waterproof and incredibly durable, and the backside of the pannier is stiffened with high density closed cell foam. The bag is accessed via an extra-long roll top closure and it attaches to the rack with two burly velcro straps and a lower webbing strap. There are compression straps on each side of the pannier, and provide 14-18L as a pair.

    • Weight: 567 grams (20 oz)
    • Price: $275
    • Place of Manufacture: USA
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • $275
    Alpine Luddites Micro Pannier

    Alpine Luddites Micro Pannier

    • Type: Mini Panniers
    • Attachment: Velcro Straps
    • Volume (Each): 6L
    • Fabric: X-Pac

    Made in Vermont by Alpine Luddites, the Micro Pannier is a small, waterproof pannier that works on both front and rear racks. They use a simple velcro attachment system, a built in polyethylene back panel for stiffness, and the lower attachment point is replaceable. There is also 3M reflective tape on the front and rear of the bags, for added visibility.

    • Weight: 580 grams (20.5 oz)
    • Price: $275
    • Place of Manufacture: Vermont, USA
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • £22
    AlpKit Toliari 5 Clipless Panniers

    AlpKit Toliari 5 Clipless Panniers

    • Type: Mini Panniers
    • Attachment: webbing/straps
    • Volume (each): 5
    • Fabric: 400D TPU coated nylon waterproof fabric

    Alpkit has a number of panniers in their Toliari series; a 5, 12, 20, and 30. The 5 is probably the best option for this Index, though the 12 may be suitable too. All the models available in both a clip and clipless version. The clipless version has versatile webbing ladders that permit a multitude of attachment options, be it on a front or rear rack. The Toliari clipped version features adjustable clips and a large top handle, making them more convenient to mount and remove when you take a pit stop.

    Key features listed by Alpkit include a 3-Year Alpine Bond and a waterproof fabric with a roll-top closure. Price-wise, they come in at a very affordable £22 each, no matter the size.

    • Weight: 355 grams (12.5 oz)
    • Price: £22
    • Place of Manufacture: China
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • $130
    Brooks Norfolk Panniers

    Brooks Norfolk Panniers

    • Type: Small Panniers
    • Attachment: RACK HOOKS
    • Volume (Each): 13L
    • Fabric: Nylon

    The Brooks Norfolk Front Pannier is the perfect complement to their larger Suffolk Rear Pannier. It’s made from a soft nylon fabric with a waterproof polyurethane coating, vegetable tanned leather, a roll-top closure, and the QL2 attachment system from Ortlieb.

    • Weight: 800 grams (28.2 oz)
    • Price: $130
    • Place of Manufacture: China
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • $135
    Brooks Scape Small Pannier

    Brooks Scape Small Pannier

    • Type: Small Panniers
    • Attachment: Rack Hooks
    • Volume (Each): 13L
    • Fabric: Welded/Waterproof

    The Brooks Scape Small Pannier is a waterproof pannier made with a roll-top closure and welded, weatherproof details. The Small Pannier is designed to be used on a front or rear rack. Check out our original press release here.

    • Weight: 630 grams (22.2 oz)
    • Price: $135
    • Place of Manufacture: China
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • $170
    Ortlieb Gravel-Pack Panniers

    Ortlieb Gravel-Pack Panniers

    • Type: Front or small rear panniers
    • Attachment: Rack Hooks
    • Volume (each): 12.5L
    • Fabric: Welded/waterproof

    The Ortlieb Gravel Pack panniers are a little different from other front panniers ORTLIEB offers. They are made from the same lightweight, abrasion resistant PSR21 material used on the Handlebar-Pack, Seat-Pack, and newer additions to the bikepacking line-up. This makes them about 280 grams lighter than the popular Sport Roller front panniers. In addition, each is equipped with two — as opposed to one — stabilizer hooks for securing to the rack on rough trails and rugged dirt roads. So these features do make them a little more appropriate for unpaved and bumpy surfaces. And shaving a little weight is always welcome in the bikepacking sphere. A few years back, Gin ended up using a pair of ORTLIEB’s Sport Roller front panniers on a rear rack during our trip through Africa. All in all, they held up well. But after some bushwhacking and a lot of rough roads, they did get a little beat up, so the abrasion-resistant material is a welcome addition.

    • Ortlieb Gravel Packs, Panniers
    • Ortlieb Gravel Packs, Panniers
    • Ortlieb Gravel Packs, Panniers

    All features and build quality considered, the ORTLIEB Gravel-Pack seems like a pretty good option for scenarios where extra space is needed, or when a seat pack isn’t in the cards. And if you are into the idea of front-loading—which is what Ortlieb designed them for—I presume these could work well in that application too. The pannier pair has 25 liters of volume and features the somewhat new and beefier QL2.1 mounting hook system. These are the nicest pannier mounts I’ve seen, plus you can remove each pannier with one hand via the quick-release handle strap. Double stabilizer hooks are nothing new as folks have been adding an extra on their front panniers for a while, but it’s nice that ORTLIEB included it, and the additional support does help on rough tracks. Each bag also has a stiff plastic backing to help it stay true. Like other bags in their lineup, the Gravel-Pack panniers are RF-welded and fully waterproof.

    • Weight: 1.16 kg (2.56 lbs)
    • Price: $170 (pair)
    • Place of Manufacture: Germany
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  • $72
    RAL EX Loader

    RAL EX Loader

    • Type: Small Panniers
    • Attachment: Metal Clip and Hook
    • Volume (Each): 11L
    • Fabric: Cordura

    The RAL EX Loader is designed to be versatile enough for hard rides as well as everyday life. The main compartment opens with a large zipper opening like a daypack, a carry handle makes it easy to take off the bike and walk around with, and the oversized exterior mesh pocket is great for stuffing in some last minute items or an extra layer.

    • Price: $72
    • Place of Manufacture: California, USA
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • $150
    Stealth Mountain Panniers

    Stealth Mountain Panniers

    • Type: Small Panniers
    • Attachment: Velcro Straps
    • Volume (each): 8L
    • Fabric: Cordura

    Handmade in New Zealand, the Stealth Mountain Panniers are smaller than traditional panniers and designed to handle the rigours of mountain biking and bikepacking. The Mountain Panniers attach to most racks using a rattle-free velcro mounting system, with an additional lower cam lock buckle to keep things in place. They are sold as a pair, providing up to 16L of storage for when some extra packing space is needed. The Mountain Panniers are made to order in New Zealand, and are currently priced at $220 NZD (~$160 USD).

    • Stealth Mountain Panniers
    • Stealth Mountain Panniers
    • Stealth Mountain Panniers
    • Weight: 320 grams (11.3 oz)
    • Price: $150 (Sold as a pair)
    • Place of Manufacture: New Zealand
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • $90
    Sturdy Minne Panniers

    Sturdy Minne Panniers

    • Type: Small Panniers
    • Attachment: Velcro Straps
    • Volume (each): 3.5L
    • Fabric: Cordura

    Made to order in Minnesota, USA, the Sturdy Minne Panniers are based around a slim triangular shape that’s perfect for short trips or for everyday essentials. They attach to a rack using two velcro straps at the top and an additional at the bottom, and a webbing compression strap. The main compartment is accessed via a waterproof zipper, and the backs and sides of the pannier is made of black 1680 denier ballistic canvas. There is closed cell foam throughout for padding, and a plastic stiffener inside of back panel. Sturdy offers a wide range of colour / fabric options to choose from for the front panel of the bag. For something a bit bigger, the Sturdy Standard Pannier offers more capacity and Arkel Cam Lock hardware for easy on / off.

    • Weight: 260 grams (9.2 oz)
    • Price: $90
    • Place of Manufacture: USA
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • €116
    Vaude Front Light Pannier

    Vaude Front Light Pannier

    • Type : Small pannier
    • Attachment system: QMR 2.0 attachment system
    • Volume (each): 15 (each)
    • Fabric: 2D-welded canvas

    Like Ortlieb, Vaude is another brand synonymous with waterproof panniers within the bike touring world.

    Sold as a pair, the Aqua Front Light pannier is pared down to the basics. According to Vaude, the 2D-welded canvas is thinner, but no less robust than the heavier bags of the Aqua series. Instead of an elaborate compression system, a cargo net is used for quick access to your jacket, an extra shirt or other clothing items you’ll need on the ride. The Aqua Front Light is not only aimed for bike packing adventures and demanding bike trips, but — in combination with its shoulder strap — day to day commuters too. The Aqua Light pannier is manufactured in Germany without the use of PVC in accordance with the Greenshape 2.0 criteria.

    There’s an inside pocket, reflective logo, and Vaude’s QMR 2.0 attachment system, which is lockable too. Size: 15 x 31 x 34 cm.

    • Vaude Front Light Pannier review
    • Vaude Front Light Pannier review
    • Vaude Front Light Pannier review
    • Weight: 450 grams (15.9 oz)
    • Price: €116
    • Place of Manufacture: China
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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Parting Thoughts

Yes, we know that bikepacking is all about losing panniers and streamlining our setups. And that certainly remains the goal, as your bike will undoubtedly handle better on singletrack. But although we all aspire to carry less – because a lighter bike opens up more possibilities in terms of the terrain we can ride, and how much we enjoy ourselves – small, rattle-free panniers can make a very useful addition to a bikepacker’s gear wardrobe.

Shorter riders, or those embarking on winter trip, family journeys, or long distance bikepacking… sometimes even the most devout minimalist can discover the benefit of smaller-than-average mini panniers and a rack in increasing storage capacity. Ultimately, this hybrid approach will likely suit many, taking the away the complications of precision packing, without succumbing to the ‘everything-but-the-kitchen-sink’ approach to bike touring.

And, as with all of our Gear Indexes, if you have other small or mini panniers you think should be in this list and fit our criteria, leave us a comment below. Thanks!